Brand new National Geographic drama series A Small Light is about to start airing episodes weekly on Disney Plus, and it features an all-star cast to tell an incredible true story.


The series looks to shine a new light on Miep Gies, the young woman who, along with others, helped to hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis during World War II.

It's a remarkable, oftentimes harrowing and other times uplifting story of human resilience and bravery. But how much of the story is true and who was Miep Gies? spoke exclusively with the show's creators to find out.

Read on for everything you need to know about the true story behind A Small Light.

What is A Small Light about?

Liev Schreiber as Otto Frank in A Small Light
Liev Schreiber as Otto Frank in A Small Light. National Geographic for Disney/Dusan Martincek

A Small Light, the new eight-part National Geographic series for Disney Plus, follows Miep Gies, a young, carefree secretary in Amsterdam who one day in 1942 is asked by her employee, Otto Frank, to help hide himself and his family from the Nazis.

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For nearly two years, Miep and her husband Jan protected the Franks and others while she held down a day job, and shouldered more responsibility than anyone could imagine.

The series stars Bel Powley as Miep, Joe Cole as Jan and Liev Schreiber as Otto, while other major roles are filled by the likes of Amira Casar, Billie Boullet, Ashley Brooke, Andy Nyman and Noah Taylor.

Who was Miep Gies?

Bel Powley as Miep Gies in A Small Light.
Bel Powley as Miep Gies in A Small Light. National Geographic for Disney/Dusan Martincek

Just as in the series, Miep was a woman who lived in Amsterdam during the Second World War and helped to hide the Frank family, including Anne Frank, who during her time hiding produced one of the most famous diaries of all time.

Miep, whose real name was Hermine, was born in Vienna, Austria in 1909, but was transported to Leiden in the Netherlands in 1920 in order to escape food shortages. She was fostered by a family called the Nieuwenburgs who already had five children. They gave her the nickname Miep.

In 1922 the family moved to Amsterdam and in 1933 Miep took a job as a secretary at German spice company Opekta, where Otto Frank worked as managing director, having recently relocated from the company's German branch. Miep and Otto became close, along with Miep's fiancée Jan Gies and Otto's family.

After the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Miep, Jan and Miep's colleagues Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman and Bep Voskuijl helped to hide the Franks – Otto, his wife Edith and their daughters Margot and Anne – as well as the van Pels family – Anne, Hermann, Auguste and Peter, and dentist Fritz Pfeffer. They were hidden in upstairs rooms in the office building.

Their stay in hiding started on 6th July 1942 but almost two years later, on 4th August 1944, the office was raided, with the families having been betrayed. Victor, Johannes and those hidden were arrested.

Miep and Bep managed to retrieve parts of Anne's diaries from the hiding place and save them. After the war, Miep gave them to Otto, who was the only survivor amongst those who had been hidden.

Otto died at the age of 91 in 1980, while Jan died at 87 in 1993. Miep herself died in 2010 at the age of 100.

What changes have been made to Miep's story?

Bel Powley as Miep Gies and Laurie Kynaston as Casmir in A Small Light
Bel Powley as Miep Gies and Laurie Kynaston as Casmir in A Small Light. National Geographic for Disney/Dusan Martincek

While A Small Light largely sticks to the true story of Miep, Jan and their brave actions in hiding the Frank family and helping other Jewish people around the city, there are some changes made to the real-life history. spoke exclusively with the creators of A Small Light, writers Joan Rater and Tony Phelan, and director Susanna Fogel, and asked how important they felt it was to stick faithfully to the true story, or how much dramatic licence they gave themselves.

Phelan explained: "You try and have that balance. Miep was very upfront with her wartime experience and wrote an autobiography. Her husband Jan was much more reluctant to talk about what he did during the war.

"But there were certain things that we know. We know he was a member of the resistance, that he was recruited at his work, that as a social worker he had access pretty much every apartment in Amsterdam, which made him very valuable to have.

"And so then by researching other people in the Dutch resistance, you kind of begin to get a sense of the kinds of things he would have probably done and you speculate around that, but we were careful never to attribute things to him that we knew other people had done."

Phelan continued: "And then we took some liberties in the character of Cass, her brother. We know that Miep had five foster brothers – statistically probably one of them was gay. But deciding to make Cass gay allowed us into the world of the Café 't Manje and the fact that the queer community in the Netherlands was very active in the Dutch resistance.

"So bringing that story into our story felt like the right choice to do. So we took some liberties but hopefully they’re liberties in the pursuit of a bigger desire to immerse the audience in the many different facets of this world."

A Small Light will be available to stream on Disney Plus from 2nd May 2023. Sign up to Disney Plus now for £7.99 per month or £79.90 for a full year.

Check out our list of the best movies on Disney Plus and best shows on Disney Plus, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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